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It seems that, to an omnipotent and omnipresent being, the concept of rest would be academic. What would have happened if he hadn't rested?

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As you imply, God did not need to rest. But He chose to, apparently as a pattern for us:

Exodus 20:8-11

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This is not the only time God has done something He didn't need to, to set an example for us. Another was when Jesus was baptised (Matthew 3:13-15).

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God resting on the seventh day is not an indication that He was "tired" or somehow needed rest, but is just a way of expressing that He had completed His work of creation.

Many (probably mainly old earth creationists) believe that we are now living in that "seventh day", since the Genesis account never says the seventh day ended (as it does with the other 6 days). In this view, clearly God is not resting, in the sense of doing nothing--He is still active throughout human history, including the work of sending Christ, etc. He is simply resting from the work of creation.

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I think God's resting on the seventh day was in part to give us an example to follow.

It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested. - Exodus 3:17, NIV

It is interesting to note that research over the years has shown that we human beings need time to rest and re-create. We are not created to go full-out, 24/7. The psychological literature often talks about taking breaks as a good way to reduce stress. Taking time to rest gives our body time to re-create itself. Even in weight training and body building the concept of rest appears: don't work the same muscle group every day (Weight Training 101).

Our minds also need time to rest. For many people, just setting aside a difficult problem is the key to finding the answer.

It's interesting to consider that by setting aside a special, Holy day for God, we also are given a chance to recreate ourselves in His image. It gives us a day to stop, and be washed by the water of the Word. It gives us a chance to see things in God's perspective, not our own limited view.

Another interesting thing is to look at the variations in the theme of 7 periods of rest.

This theme of rest in terms of groups of seven is not limited to just a Sabboth rest. It also is found in the ancient rules for planting fields.

but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. - Exodus 23:11, NIV

As Israel matured, it forgot about giving the fields a rest every seventh year. Eventually, it caught up to them.

The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah. - 2 Chronicles 36:21, NIV

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The interpretation of verse doesn’t say God “needed” to rest; but that God stopped His acts of creation on the seventh day.

Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

The Hebrew word “u•ishbth” when translated has one of the main definitions as “to cease or stop.” So the understanding is that God “stopped” His work; He “ceased” creating on the seventh day.

When God said, “Let there be light,” the light appeared. He simply spoke creation into existence. Throughout, Bible depicts God as omnipotent—He has all power— and it doesn’t make much sense that He would need to “rest.” That is not the intended meaning of this verse or the word.

Because God ceased from work that day, the Israelites were to cease from their work on the Sabbath.

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In a sense, Jesus settled this issue with His words in Mark 2:27, where He said,

"'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.'"

The reason for God's "resting" on the seventh day of creation was for our benefit, not His. He set a pattern for us to follow by giving us the command to work for six days and rest for one.

As important as work is, it is not the end-all and be-all of life. We need to seek balance in all things, and to set aside time to worship God within a local assembly of believers is not only a key part of our service of worship but it an important means of having our spiritual batteries recharged for the week ahead. On Sunday, the traditional day many Christians "go to church," ever since Christ's resurrection on the first day of the week, we give back to God by singing His praises and celebrating His faithfulness and goodness during the past week, and we receive the strength to enter a new week with renewed spiritual vigor for doing God's will, individually and corporately.

To "work" on the seventh/first day is not a sin, as Jesus pointed out. He, being Lord of the Sabbath, put His imprimatur on "doing good" on the Sabbath (see Matthew 12, Mark 2, and Luke 6). That good could very well involve working for wages, on the one hand, or helping a brother or sister in Christ to move into a new apartment, on the other. However, as soon as we start to neglect to our own hurt and the hurt of others the gathering of ourselves together in a local fellowship, we risk losing that balance which God desires for all of us.

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